Saturday, August 16, 2008

Babelfish, You Nutty Thing, You.

Once upon a time, Superdad sent me an email in Spanish that read like this: "Dear daughter mine, Your you are very special for my. I want muchissimo to you, and I throw to you much of less when estes far. Kisses, Pope."

Of course, what he meant to say was "My dear daughter, You are very special to me. I love you very much and miss you when you are far away. Love, Papa." Sadly, he'd succumbed to the immoral and unreliable temptations of a translation website called Babelfish. My poppets, you are forewarned. If you have any interest in accuracy or precision in word choice, stay far away from this nefarious internet poseur. Stay far, far away.

Unless of course, you're after a good laugh, in which case you ought to strap on some Depends and dig in. These things are hilariously bad, and today, thanks to my dear PrincessPi, I experimented a little bit with some of the finer permutations of multiple re-translations. Don't ask me why, but when faced with a blank screen, this is the first thing that occurred to me to type:

Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound
that saved a wretch like me.
I once was lost, but now am found
was lost, but now I see.

Why a hymn? Couldn't I have spontaneously quoted from Aristotle, Churchill, or FDR? It must have something to do with years and years of Sunday School, church suppers, and Bible Camp. It'll scar a girl good, I tell ya. Anyway, I translated it into traditional Chinese, and came up with this:

驚人的寬限期,如何甜美的聲音
救了一wretch像我一樣
我曾經失去,但現在我發現,
已經失明,但現在我明白了。

Yeah, I don't know, either. Oh, but you're curious? Want to know what all those pretty characters mean? Well, why don't we get to the bottom of this little mystery and RE-TRANSLATE it back into English. Witness, my friends, the literal translation of Amazing Grace from Chinese to English.

The astonishing permission period,
how did the delightful sound rescue wretch to look
like my me once to lose equally, but I discovered now,
already lost one's sight, but I understood now.


Stunning, right? No wonder those missionaries had trouble over there.

4 comments:

PrincessPi said...

I've missed you, Cheasty! Glad to provide some entertainment.

Judy said...

Dearest Cheasty my. You thanks to laughs good.

Matter Of Fact Mommy said...

funny, this is! (darn you, judy for commenting first!)

wtf is up with "wretch" being all in the middle in english and stuff. hilarious.

btw, now i'm totally going to spend hours on the website laughing at the translations and the re-translations... thanks.

Alison said...

That's beautiful - in fact, I think the 2nd translation may be even more poetic than the first! I think we all have to get together and sing it. Glad to see you back!